The Mantis Shrimp (Stomatopoda)
By Shea Flanders
The Mantis Shrimp is one of the most colorful animals in the animal kingdom, and one of the most complex creatures in the sea.
The Mantis Shrimp are found in the warm waters of the Indian and the Pacific oceans, usually in shallow tropical and temperate waters. Some are found in waters around East Africa, North Australia, and South Japan. Mantis Shrimps are found near coral reefs that contain sea sponge. It lives in cracks and breaks in coral rocks, sandy or shelly ocean bottoms, and even burrows in other organisms homes. For example, sometimes it will take over the homes of things like shrimp, and flatfish. It makes it's burrow 3 to 6 feet deep, and it's very protective of its home.
Above shows a Mantis Shrimp in its burrow.
The Mantis Shrimp is in the taxonomic category as a Crustacean because it has a hard shell covering its body, they have limbs that split into two, a labrum (a structure within the mouth), and they have early stages of larva development.
1) Hammer Arms
The peacock mantis shrimp has hammer arms. A system of latches within the arms keeps the muscles flexed to build up power, then it fires. It has the strongest punch out of any animal, and it delivers the force of a 22 caliber bullet. It also has the fastest moving strike system out of any animal on Earth. It uses this punch to crack snail shells (to eat) and to fight off predators.
The mantis shrimp, displaying its hammer arms.
2) Eye Movement
The Mantis Shrimp's two eyes are very special, because they move independently from each other. They do this to see the are around them, and to avoid predators. It uses its arms to clean them.
3) Eye Sight
The Mantis Shrimp also have the most advanced eye sigh in the animal kingdom. Each one of their eyes have three pupils, which mean each of their eyes have trinocular vision. Each pupil has a row, and in the middle row of each eye there are 6 little parallel strips. these strips detect light and color. The most curious thing about their eyes, is that they have 16 color rods. They can see the most colors out of anything on the planet. They see colors wee don't even recognize. It's truly amazing.
The Mantis Shrimp is known to be very aggressive, and protective. they will fight anything in their path, especially if that think=g is invading their territory. Males usually aren't kept in cages together.
As seen in the pictures so far, the Peacock Mantis Shrimp is very colorful. It's not really known why they have such colorful shells. It's theorized that it signals other Mantis Shrimp of their presence. Also, their bright colors ward off predators.
A vibrant Mantis Shrimp.
Mantis Shrimp usually breed 20 - 30 times in their life. They have hundreds of kids each time. New born mantis shrimp make for easy prey, so they naturally have to have a lot of kids for survival. The female lays two clusters of eggs, one for the male to take care of, and one for the female to take care of.
Some Mantis Shrimp mate for life, and have hundreds and hundreds of kids together. We're not really sure why they do this, but its cute. Also, sometimes when mantis shrimp mate, the male will fluoresce.
Mantis Shrimp live very long lives compared to other creatures. They live up to 20 years, or more. This allows for breeding, and keeping the species alive. Their species has survived for 500 million years.
To communicate, mantis shrimp use their antennae. They do this to feel the vibrations of other mantis shrimp around them. Sometimes they will hit the ground with their fists to warn others of predators.
10) Communication (Continued)
Finally, the Mantis Shrimp uses it's brightly colored spots on its arms to communicate with predators. The spots can change color, and it uses them to call a bluff. The shrimp will wave its arms around (covered in the spots), and the predator will walk away.
To me, the Mantis Shrimp is one of the most interesting animals on the planet. I could only imagine to see the amount of color it sees. It's such an amazing little creature.